Where are the jobs?

I learn from my clients about what is really happening in the job market. Based on their experiences, here are some significant trends that may help you with your career planning, job searching, or advice for your children.

Job Market: Governments claim unemployment is at record lows. Employers complain of skill shortages and their inability to fill job vacancies. Job seekers complain about finding decent jobs. What is going on?

a. More hiring is happening…if you have a professional or technical skill with work experience. Recruiters and employment agencies are definitely filling positions for employers who want experienced credentialed employees. While recruiters and agencies demand recent employment experience, many employers are more open to employment gaps from candidates—especially women who have taken time off to start or care for family.

b. E-commerce is hiring young adults with technical diplomas. There is not doubt that it is easier to get a job these days if you are a 20-something with a 1-year diploma in Mobile Application Development and Design than if you have a 4-yr Arts degree.

c. STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) careers are definitely on the rise, and so are jobs in all areas of healthcare. However, immigrants with qualifications in these areas still face formidable barriers to employment, but less so in the technology sector.

d. Employers won’t pay for training. One of the reasons that employers claim there is a shortage of skilled labour is because most of them won’t pay for training. It is cheaper to pay skilled workers a higher salary than add the costs of training.

e. Employers with rich market capital—the Googles, Facebooks, Apples of the world—will pay for training because they can afford it. They also have to pay high salaries because their offices are located in large urban centres with high housing costs, which is another reason companies are having trouble attracting skilled labour.

f. Employers are biased. Even young adults with technical skills are having a hard time landing that first career job because employers still prefer experienced workers. Having said that, ageism is alive and well in the labour market. Older workers looking for jobs have to rely less on their work history and more on demonstrating to potential employers how they can add value to their operations.

g. Beware of short term jobs. The employers that complain loudest about lack of skilled labour are often the same ones who are moving to replace labour through AI, automation and robots. It’s important for students to analyze the trends in a sector before investing in a career that can be easily replaced by technology in the near future.

h. Employers will not do what’s necessary to attract and retain young workers. Many GenZ and millennials still live at home and pay few bills, so they often leave a job if they don’t like it (because they can afford to). And they don’t seem to like cubicle cultures in big hierarchical organizations. Many millennials are starting their own companies, often with friends because they prefer smaller companies that have a more “engaging” culture of community and collaboration. Most large employers are not yet willing to make costly investments or structural changes in their practices to retain these workers; therefore, they complain about skill shortages that are due not to a lack of labour supply but a lack of employers willing to change their people management practices.

i. Growth of government siphons off skilled labour. Federal, provincial and municipal governments continue to practice deficit spending and drive up debt in order to expand programs and projects that employ lots of people who might otherwise fill jobs in the private sector. In Ontario alone, the number of public servants increased by 5 times over 10 years under the recent Liberal government. The appeal to workers is obvious—the public sector is one of the last workplaces to offer job security.

j. The gig economy is expanding. More workers in all age groups are developing multiple jobs or streams of income because certain social, technological and economic trends are forcing them to do so. Employers are learning how to embrace and manage contractors. In the war for talent and skills, employers are starting to offer contractors better terms and working conditions.

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